Home & Food
5 Ways to Deal With
Lady Bug Infestations
are five ways that I've found to deal with lady
by: LeAnn R. Ralph
Every fall, millions of lady
bugs (or what seems like millions) swarm around my house
here in west central Wisconsin, looking for a place to
spend the winter.
Actually, they are not "true"
lady bugs. They are "Multi-Colored Asian Lady Beetles."
The beetles are beneficial to the environment because
they control aphids. And from what I've read, the multicolored
lady beetles are much better at controlling aphids than
the 'real' lady bugs.
How can you tell the difference
between native lady bugs and the multicolored beetles?
Lady bugs are bright red. The multicolored lady beetles
come in shades of orange, from light to dark. They also
have many variations of patterns of spots. Some have almost
no spots at all, and some have many spots. When you look
closely at the multicolored lady beetles, it doesn't seem
much of a stretch to say that no two are alike.
Unfortunately, on warm, sunny
fall days, the swarms of lady beetles are so thick around
my house that in the afternoon, I hesitate to even go
outside to get the mail. The beetles land in my hair,
crawl behind my glasses and work their way down the collar
of my shirt.
Thousands of the bugs also
find ways into my walk-out basement. I have swept them
up by the snow-shovel-full (literally). My basement faces
south, and the insects are attracted to light-colored
structures with southern, sunny exposures that are on
The beetles come in around
the screen door upstairs, too, and the next thing you
I've got hundreds of them
crawling on the walls and across the ceiling.
In the spring, when it warms
up, the beetles emerge from their winter hiding places.
Beginning in March, dozens of beetles crawl around my
home office, the kitchen, the dining room, the basement
and in other parts of the house, looking for a way to
Multi-Colored Asian Lady
Beetles are not harmful when they are inside the house,
although they can be annoying if present in significant
numbers. It's a little disconcerting to pick up your coffee
cup and almost swallow a beetle that has landed in your
coffee or is crawling around the rim of the cup. And two
or three lady beetles landing in your bowl of soup can
definitely make you lose you appetite. If you have company
coming, you also don't want guests to find lady beetles
in their food or beverages.
Although the beetles are
not necessarily harmful if they're inside the house, when
they swarm in the fall, they can create problems if they
crawl into furnace vent pipes and plug them up. I have
heard of them plugging attic vents, as well. And one woman
reported to my husband (he is an Internet technician),
that a lady bug crawled inside of her computer and shorted
When the beetles are present
in large numbers, you can also smell them. The odor is
a little like burned rubber or hot asphalt. When the beetles
are threatened, the odor is particularly strong. They
apparently view being swept off the walls (or vacuumed
off) as a threatening situation. Sometimes when threatened,
the beetles ooze an orange liquid, as well. I have read
that the liquid can stain walls and fabrics, although
I have not yet seen any evidence of that around my own
Here are five ways that I've
found to deal with lady bug infestations:
• Vacuum up the beetles
with the vacuum cleaner attachment.
This may be somewhat time-consuming
but it is a non-toxic and safe method to remove the bugs.
As far as I'm concerned, time-consuming doesn't seem so
important when thousands of lady beetles are invading
When vacuuming up large numbers
of Multi-Colored Asian Lady Beetles, be sure that you
don't leave the attachment hose draped across the vacuum
cleaner in preparation for the next vacuuming session,
otherwise the beetles will soon find their way out of
the vacuum bag and will be crawling around the house again.
One woman from my hometown says she solves this problem
by stuffing a paper towel into the end of the vacuum hose.
• Seal up cracks or
spaces around doors and windows, if possible.
Sealing up cracks and spaces
will make it more difficult for the beetles to get into
the house in the first place. The beetles do not need
much space to crawl through. Even a door that fits the
frame quite well may still leave enough space to allow
the beetles access to your house.
• Spray around door
frames and window frames with a bug spray containing pyrethrins
I have discovered that the
beetles will avoid crawling across bug spray with pyrethrins
or permethrin, or if they do crawl across it, they die
in a short while. I don't particularly like to spray bug
spray inside my house, but when it's a matter of spraying
or letting thousands of lady bugs into the house, spraying
seems like the lesser of the two evils. I don't like killing
the beetles, either, and would just as soon "live
and let live," but I draw the line at a house-full
• Use the garden hose
to spray the beetles off the side of the house.
In the fall, when the beetles
are crawling on the outside of my house by the hundreds
of thousands (sometimes it's almost difficult to see what
color the house is because there are so many beetles),
I take the garden hose and use the sprayer attachment
to spray them off the side of the house. To make an impact,
this must be done two or three times a day on days when
the swarms are active. I have also used an attachment
for the garden hose that allows me to spray a soap-and-water
mixture on the house. I haven't noticed that a soap solution
is really any more effective at knocking the beetles off
the house, although the exterior walls are cleaner when
• Learn to tolerate
the Multi-Colored Asian Lady Beetles.
I keep telling myself that
the Multi-Colored Asian Lady Beetles are swarming around
my house because they are only trying to survive the winter
— just like all living things try to survive.
In the insect world, the
beetles are known as predators because they eat aphids
and other plant pests. A few years from now, the beetles
may be in a low cycle, and then, perhaps, I will wish
there were more of them when the aphids begin attacking
crops, gardens and flowering plants. (I still don't want
the beetles invading my house by the thousands, though.)
Copyright 2004 LeAnn R. Ralph
About The Author
LeAnn R. Ralph is the
author of the book, *Christmas in Dairyland (True Stories
from a Wisconsin Farm)* (trade paperback; August 2003).
For more information, visit http://ruralroute2.com